By the Numbers: Ditch plastic grcocery bags

“If we in government truly want to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, reduce the consumption of our natural resources, reduce landfill waste, reduce the amount of litter on our streets, and reduce the amount of damage done to our wildlife and environment, then New York State should kiss goodbye harmful check-out plastic grocery bags,” said Assemblyman Colton.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

He also pointed to the need to reduce the country’s oil consumption, since it takes about 430,000 gallons to produce 100 million plastic bags.

By The Numbers…

  • Typical Number of Bags used per week: 12
  • 12 * 52 weeks = 624/year
  • 624 bags * 8million NYC City Residents (as of 2000) = 4,997,165,472 – yes that’s almost 5 billion!
  • 4,997,165,472 bags (divided by) 100 Million bags (amount that uses 430,000 gallons of oil to produce) = 50 per 100 Million bags (rounded)
  • 50 * 430,000 = 21,500,000 gallons of oil used to give only New York City their supply of plastic bags


As pointed out to me by one of my brothers, the gallons of oil, itself, is used for many multiple purposes – thus the oil has parts of it that are used for multiple different manufacturing purposes.


That being said, the environmental implications are enormous for just one city’s consumption of plastic bags – I can’t imagine what the numbers are for the top 50 cities in the United States.

I’m not an environment junkie, but this is hard to ignore. There are many viable alternatives, such as canvas bags and reusable bags.

Somebody once said “it starts with small steps“.

I think we just found one of those steps.

  • ‘The Bogus’

    Thanks, to my brother Matt for providing some math checking for me…

  • MBogus

    I’m glad I was able to use college for something

  • ben

    What am I supposed to do? Juggle my groceries all the way home? Kick my loaf of bread along the sidewalk, can of corn in my pocket, 4-pack of toilet paper clenched between my teeth? Maybe I can dump out all my potato chips and use that bag to carry the rest of my shit. No bag, no thanks!

    Also, I read an interesting New Scientist article, past month, about packaging. The author only bought things from the grocery without packaging. She didn’t eat much.

  • Another Bogus

    I hate how the baggers only put maybe 2 or 3 items in one plastic bag- so even though you only bought a few items, you walk out with a ton of bags. They don’t break *that* easy.

    I have always felt guilty about my use of plastic bags (most paper bags don’t have handles!), & I have been inspired. If you are also so craftily inclined, make your own grocery tote out of recycled plastic bags!

  • ‘The Bogus’

    I hate how the baggers only put maybe 2 or 3 items in one plastic bag- so even though you only bought a few items, you walk out with a ton of bags.

    I feel that that is a major problem with the supermarkets out there. There’s a complete lack of disregard for the wasting of plastic bags.

    Especially, in New York City. Here in NYC they double-bag everything in grocery stores. I recently bought a four-pack of lightbulbs at my local grocery establishment. They double bagged the four pack of bulbs – crazy and stupid.

    There’s no consciousness of how they’re destroying and polluting our environment via plastic bags of all things.

  • ‘The Bogus’

    So, Ben. Are you telling me there are absolutely no other alternatives to bag groceries in Indiana?

    I believe we both have a mutual ‘friend’ who used to have blue knapsack bags he would bag groceries in.

    Hmmm… On second thought, I think he might still have those. You should ask him and see what his thoughts on plastic bag usage are

  • ‘The Bogus’

    A Scientist not eating…

    That’s what we call an eco-diet.